Share-revenues as an alternative to Non-commercial
dc at sover.net
Wed May 4 12:04:03 EDT 2005
> Greg London said:
> You will not see thousands of contributers to a market
> economy license, and your share-revenue is a market
> economy license.
I agree (with basically everything you said). Including your definitions of
gift/market economies (well put). And Share-revenue isn't the right license
for Linux, obviously.
But consider copyleft licenses, like GPL and Sleepycat. These also function
to enable commerce, through dual-licensing schemes. For example, Sleepycat
sells commercial licenses which grant exemption the copyleft provision of
their open source license. MySQL does the same thing. This is very common.
That's why those open source developers are profitable. It's their business
It's quite true they don't get thousands of gifts of developer hours. They
pretty much have to do it all themselves. (They did get to use some open
source that already existed, and they often cooperate with each other, and
users debug for them). But their source is open for inspection, they meet
the Open Source Definition, and non-commercial users (in fact even
commercial users who can stomach copyleft or don't redistribute the code)
get to use their work gratis. Derivative works are allowed. Yet they're
profitable because they can sell commercial licenses too.
Obviously commercial models are not the best model for huge public works
like Linux or Apache. It's great those projects are strictly a gift economy.
But commercial uses of open source are important to open source developers
who need to generate revenue. If you don't believe that, we disagree. I
think it's healthy that the open source world has a market economy as well
as a gift economy.
I've nothing against the gift economy. I'm happy to contribute enhancements
and bug fixes to open source projects I use, gratis. But I need (some of) my
own open source projects to operate in the market economy, too.
The question of whether an open source project that has commercial revenues
(through dual-licensing or some other scheme like Share-revenues) can fairly
reward its open source contributors (beyond the first generation) is an
unanswered one. I know of no existence proof for a system that does that
well. And my Share-revenues idea does not say how to do it, or ensure it
But I don't agree it's necessarily impossible. It may be impossible to make
a license that does it automatically -- it may depend on human nuance and
relationships too much. So I think a commons license should not attempt to
spell out who pays what to whom. It should enable experimentation
I think we need new licenses (such as new provisions to CC licenses) that
facilitate experiments in both the gift and the market economies, and to the
extent possible, permit the same works to be used in both.
> Bounty Hunters: Metaphors for Fair IP Law.
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